I didn’t write anything in my novel at all yesterday, instead I spent most of the day either at, going to, or returning from a collegium for the Society of Creative Anachronism. As a result, my word count is a little behind, but I fully intend to make it up today, and then some, with a bit of luck(and with some help from that nice, full night of sleep I got last night), and some hardy determination.

The last couple days have been more difficult than the first for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with inner editors or writer’s block. I know that one of the methods that NaNoWriMo broadcasts is to write with abandon, just to write, and worry about revising things later, but that isn’t really my method. And beside that, I’ve already done the “writing with abandon thing.” That’s how I won for the first time.

But revision is hard, perhaps harder than just writing. Revision is based on analysis and understanding, and designing. Writing is like coding — you make the characters, you make the place, you make the things that happen. Coding is straightforward and can be plowed through, which is a funny way of describing it, because I think most people have trouble discerning parts of writing into what’s creative and what isn’t.

The reason NaNoWriMo works is because not all of writing is creative. Some of it is just coding. It’s taking nouns and verbs and constructing sentences with them, putting sentences into paragraphs, and then putting paragraphs into pages, and pages into books. That’s the grunt work of writing. That’s the part that “anyone can do.” It’s a repetitive process that requires little to no finesse or creativity.

Once you get past the the part of writing that’s just code — there’s a design element. It’s the part that requires the writer to look at how to present the themes and characters and setting of the story and make it accessible to readers. It is more technically difficult than coding because it requires more than the physical labor of writing, which is not to say that it is more difficult. Anyone can be trained to design.

Then you have the directorial aspect of writing. It’s another analytical role but less focused than design — and one that’s more concerned with making sure that the product is true to the message or story that’s being delivered. It’s about the vision. Good design should be invisible with help from good direction. They work together to create a product that is at once well-crafted and far-reaching.

Approachability and applicability might be considered the differences between good design and good direction. Design enables different people from different walks of life to approach the message, and applicability enables those people to digest the message and apply it to their own lives in a meaningful way. Good coding makes sure the work exists at all, and for that reason is just as important as the rest.

The production role in writing is what makes sure that it gets finished, and may be (to keep the theme going) just as difficult as every other aspect. Production is breaking the task down into parts, making sure those go to the right people, prioritizing certain aspects, singling out parts for strengthening or de-emphasizing parts that can’t be completed on time for the product to ship.

The author, often working alone, must be invested in the project enough to write it at all (coding), must be invested enough to make sure it has scope (direction) and that it can be understood (design), and at the same time be divested enough to realize that not everything gets to go into this project that you want in it, and some things must be cut to have a shippable, cohesive product (production).

No one part is more important than another, and while many of these are learn-able skills, they are considered mystical qualities held only by godlike authors. I think anyone can write well if they’re dedicated enough to understand the process.